We are what we eat
21 July 2022 - IH Ticino

On Tuesday, July 19, 2022, the third TED Members Group Discussion of the year was held in Impact Hub Ticino, organized with the support of BancaStato. “Today’s climate, tomorrow’s food” this was the theme of the event, which created an active debate among participants in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

The evening began with the screening of a TED Talk video, “Climate Change is becoming a problem you can taste” by Amanda Little, professor of journalism and science writing at Vanderbilt University and columnist for Bloomberg. After the video was shown, participants engaged in a constructive debate, expressing ideas and visions through open conversation.

“We are what we eat”: so began Feuerbach as early as 1850 to emphasize how an individual’s eating habits can tell us a great deal about his culture, his health and the society in which he lives. But are we always aware of the food we eat and the impact on our health and climate?

“Food before it reaches our tables must be grown, harvested, raised, transported, processed, packaged, distributed and cooked. The energy required to provide all these processes is equivalent to 30 percent of the energy available globally, and of that, the distribution phase consumes more than 70 percent,” says one of the participants. “To all this must then be added another very important fact, which is mainly a consequence of large-scale distribution: one third of the food produced is trashed during the different stages of the supply chain,” adds a young farmer. Not to mention the negative impact of the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides of conventional/industrial agriculture.

But do we really need all this food? What would happen if we bought less? And what product would we be willing to give up in the name of more conscious consumption?

“Let’s not forget the spiritual and cultural aspect related to food”-argues another participant-“Are we ready to face a cultural change as well?”

Alternatives promoted by technological innovation such as vertical gardens, lab-produced meat, and the use of artificial intelligence are just some of the viable alternatives. “Maybe it would be easier to stop eating meat and stop eating fish: we are not only killing the earth, but also the oceans,” continues, moved, another participant, who has just returned from a trip to the Caribbean where in 10 days she did not see a single fish.

Organic, biodynamic and regenerative agriculture promote a systems approach in which the farmer’s role is not only to produce food, but more importantly to regenerate the soil. “Regenerative, syntropic and agroforestry farming is proving to yield certainly healthier and more nutritious products that also contribute to CO2 absorption,” adds another participant. “Of course, there is the issue of water scarcity, the drought of these months has put a strain on the whole system,” he continues, “but fortunately there is listening and good collaboration with local authorities to identify new solutions and alternative water sources.”

These were some of the questions that emerged during last night’s conversation involving entrepreneurs, students, corporate, public, and nonprofit professionals. The conclusion was quite clear: The entire food system should be re-engineered.

But how? The challenge, it was said, is to create a glue between philosophies of thought by combining history, respect for natural rhythms with opportunities from innovation and food education.

The conversation was facilitated and fueled by Gabriele Bianchi, Winemaker and Owner Azienda Agricola Bianchi; Natalie Maspoli Taylor, Director Sea Shepherd Switzerland; Ludovica Donati, CEO of Blue Arbor Foundation, Agnese Zgraggen, Food Designer and owner of Officina del Gusto.

The event was organised thanks to the support of BancaStato, Here is the link to photo album (by our Hubber Egle Berruti Photographer) and keyword map.

What are TED Members Group Discussions?

TED Members Group Discussions, are recurring, informal events where participants watch a TED video together on the most current and pressing issues facing the community and discuss them openly, seeking solutions and confronting each other in an effort of collective intelligence. Impact Hub Ticino is a TED member and organizes four events a year touching on current and inspiring topics for the local community.